After announcing the creation of six cybersecurity grants for school districts earlier this year, IBM has announced the program’s recipients of $3 million, total, in grants that would allow the school districts to create cybersecurity preparedness teams.

The recipients stretch coast to coast, with school districts in New York, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California chosen out of a pool of 250 applicants. Each recipient will receive a $500,000 grant.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see how many school districts are taking an active role in trying to better their cybersecurity,” Christopher Scott, director of security innovation in IBM’s Office of the CISO, said in a release.

IBM found, through the application process, that half of the applying school districts had less than $100,000 allocated for the cybersecurity of the whole district while others had million. In addition, 40 percent of applying school districts found themselves on the wrong end of a ransomware attack and more than 55 percent did not have security trainings.

The chosen school districts were:

  • Brevard Public Schools in Viera, Fla.;
  • Poughkeepsie City School District in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.;
  • KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools in Atlanta;
  • Sheldon Independent School District in Houston;
  • Newhall School District in Valencia, Ca.; and
  • Denver Public Schools.

“This is not only an important decision as schools continue to operate remotely, but also as students look to get back to the classroom,” Scott added. “We’re excited to get to work with winners of the grants, and even more proud to be helping the various other districts that reached out for assistance.”

IBM also announced the creation of cybersecurity help for school districts not chosen. In addition to a cybersecurity assessment event for school districts, IBM will also help schools simulate what it is like to respond to a cyberattack at the company’s security command center in Cambridge, Mass.

The company also gave a list of recommendations to help school districts shore up cybersecurity including create incident response plans and look into cyber insurance to help plan and budget; train stakeholders on clear usage guidelines; test and patch critical systems; embrace the cloud and collaboration; and stay educated.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.